toxic family's smear campaign to damage a start up businessQ I had a big fall out with my family a few years ago and don’t have anything to do with them now, even though I still live in the same town. I’ve recently started up my own business and have a salon in the town centre.

I’ve been told by a few friends that members of my family have been bad mouthing me and trying to put customers off from coming to see me. ‘Someone’ has also sprayed personal graffiti across my shop front window, and put rubbish through the letter box. They’ve always been nasty and that’s one of the main reasons I needed to distance myself from them…but I don’t get why they are trying to ruin my business. I have a child of my own and they’re affecting our income and livelihood.

A My first guess is envy…followed closely by ‘smearing’.

Envy that you are the one trying to make a better life for yourself and setting up your business (which takes strength of character).

Smearing refers to their attempt to destroy your credibility… whilst trying to appear that they’re telling people these lies for their own good – as if doing them a favour.

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Toxic family dynamicsQ My step-grandmother keeps setting up battles between members of the family – and then somehow turns it round as if she’s the victim! She’s just lately told lies to my aunt about what I’m supposed to have said about her relationship with my uncle. My aunt questioned me about it and when I asked my gran about what she’d said and why, she denied it to my face and said my aunt must be lying – and she added the usual ‘why does everybody in this family keep telling lies about me’? Yet SHE is the one setting it all up! She creates conflicts and fall outs, and pitches people against one another. There is so much bad feeling and lack of trust now. I don’t know who to believe any more. Why does she keep doing this, and why do the rest of us seem to keep falling for it?

A Let’s think about what the desired outcome might be for your grandmother – because we all do what we do for a reason (not to say that it’s a good or bad reason).

It may well be that she is somehow replaying her own early family drama – and recreating ‘triangular relationships’.

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Is The Workplace Any Place For Your Inner Child?

Maxine Harley
Maxine Harley
MSc Psychotherapy



We’re all adults right?

Yes and no.

Outwardly we are and have the physique and qualifications to prove it!

We all have a hidden part of our psyche/mind which is called our Inner Child. He or she lives deep inside us and is the echo of who we once were as a child. It carries our beliefs about ourselves and it directs our sub-conscious behaviour – about 90% of the time – at home, on our travels and of course at work.

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How To Build Mental Grit – The importance of resilience and self-reliance

Maxine Harley
Maxine Harley
MSc Psychotherapy


In 2012 I wrote a different article about this subject which still attracts lots of interest – both online and via one of my books – showing me that the matter of resilience continues to intrigue a wide range of people from a broad range of professions.

The most important thing to remember is that not everyone is built of the same stuff when it comes to being able to create the necessary internal psychological structures – or mental ‘grit’ – to support themselves in times of great challenge, adversity and distress.

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Money and time management in businessQ I’ve decided to leave my job, which I hate, and have a go at being self-employed doing what I love. I know it’s a big risk but if I don’t go for it I’ll always wonder ‘what if’.

My question is this – I’m usually so bad with money and I’m always broke and in debt. How can I make sure that this doesn’t get in the way of my business doing well?

A I’m a psychotherapist not a business advisor, but the part of your question that relates to me is your comment about always being broke and in debt. I am wondering why that is the case, and how you have created that situation for yourself. What purpose might it serve?

(You may not be consciously aware of the answer to that question; but there will be a reason for your situation… and when you understand that you will then be in a better position to answer your own question about how this will affect you in your business venture.)

Ask yourself…’I think of money as…..’ and keep filling in the blanks until you reveal your own ‘relationship’ with money – which probably comes from your childhood and family beliefs.

On to practical matters – you are wise to consider the matter of finances for your business upfront.

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Work life balance for business woman and motherQ I’m a single parent and my little girl is now a few months old. I got pregnant by accident and I’m not with the dad any longer. I went ahead with the pregnancy alone and I do love my daughter – I just don’t love being a mum.

I’m also a business women and I’m established enough to have others to run things for me whilst I’ve been on maternity leave. My business has been my ‘baby’ for seven years now and I need to get back to work. My brain feels like it’s turning to jelly!

I feel so guilty at leaving my little girl with my mum and my sister – although I know she’s in safe hands. This dilemma has been holding me back from really pushing myself and my business forward in the way that’s needed. Am I being selfish? What should come first, my business or my baby?

A It’s not about what comes first, as much as where you want to put your energy and time.

Not every woman is cut out for business and not every mother is cut out for being a stay at home mum.

It’s important to know where you function best, as well as ensuring that your daughter has strong emotional attachments to whoever is caring for her. She needs to feel safe and loved – and that doesn’t have to be from you alone.

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Working mother - returning to work after having a babyQ I’m in a quandary. My first baby is now a few months old and I have very mixed feelings about returning to my full-time job. I do have a date set to return but as it gets closer I’m feeling more anxious and sad. On the one hand we do need the money and I did say that I’d go back to work afterwards. But on the other hand I feel guilty for leaving my baby with a child-minder. I don’t like my job anyway – and if I do have to work I’d much prefer to be doing something I actually enjoy putting my time and energy into like starting my own business.

I don’t want to let my partner down, or my baby, or myself for the future. It’s a big decision and I just keep going round and round with it. My partner says it’s my decision as long as I can contribute financially as before. What do you suggest?


A Clearly I can’t advise you what to do… it’s your life and your decision after all.

It’s hard to make firm decisions about what you’ll do (such as agreeing to go back to work) when you’ll then be in a future role (such as that of becoming a mother). Because you haven’t yet experienced the impact of that new role upon your life and your emotions.

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